Remember that scene in Pretty Woman, when the dude with the gigantic smile is yelling to Julia Roberts, “What’s your dream?” He’s the voice I hear in my head whenever I think about how I want to craft my life.
His question is such a vital one, and yet, when I ask my Change Catalyst coaching clients this question, way too many of them stare at me blankly. Often, they’re far from living the life of their dreams. Many have actually achieved the dream they had earlier in life, only to realize that it doesn’t make them happy. So now what?
Dreaming Is The First Step
But how do you get in touch with your dreams? Many of us fail to allow ourselves to fully dream. We might get glimpses of our dreams. A fleeting thought flies through your head- something huge like “I want to be a TV talk show host” or “I want to fly airplanes” or “I want to write a bestselling book” or “I want to start my own school” — and before we even get a chance to enjoy that moment of dreaming, our inner critic starts spouting off. Next thing we know, we’ve banished the dream from our minds.
The inner critic has such power over us that next time someone asks you about your dream, you draw a blank. You’ve banished the dream so completely from your consciousness that you can’t even remember what it is.
Sad. SO sad.
If You Can’t Dream It, You Can’t Do It
My friend Kymberlee Weil of Strategic Samurai, who breaks boards with her bare hands and does all sorts of other mind-blowing, seemingly impossible Martial Arts feats, says:
One of the most important skills to master is that of visualization. For optimum performance, it is critical not only to visualize an outcome, but also to visualize the smallest of details needed to realize that particular outcome. I’ve learned that the brain can’t easily distinguish between reality and focused intense imagined reality through visualization, and this can come in very handy. I regularly visualize Martial Arts skills in order to master them, and I have extended my practice of visualization into business as well. Rarely does the meeting or negotiation take place that I have not visualized the heck out of it beforehand. AND IT WORKS!!
What If Dreaming Is Hard?
If you’re finding it hard to dream, you’re not alone. Back when I was working full time as a busy, miserable OB/GYN, I couldn’t begin to imagine what would make me feel happy and unfilled. I just knew it wasn’t what I was doing with my life.
I had little touchstones. Like I knew I enjoyed painting. And I could lose myself in a deep, intimate conversation about something that mattered to me. And once upon a time, back when I was in college, I enjoyed writing, although I hadn’t done it for over a decade.
But how could I create a dream out of those touchstones? I had no clue.
If you’re finding it hard to dream of what you want, dig deeper into what you DON’T want.
Questions To Clarify What You DON’T Want
What makes you feel completely drained?
What experiences make you want to numb out, by eating sugar, boozing it up, or zoning in front of the boob tube?
What activities elicits physical symptoms in you, such as bouts of nausea or headaches?
What fills with you with looming dread?
What creates a panicky feeling in your body?
What people make you shrink?
What do you find yourself forgetting or screwing up repetitively?
Pay attention to these things! This is your authentic self bellowing at you, trying to get you to listen.
Questions To Clarify What You DO Want
What makes you lose track of time?
What do other people tell you you ROCK at?
What makes you feel uber healthy?
What circumstances or experiences rev up your creative juices?
What people make you feel like a superhero?
What circumstances or activities make you feel relaxed?
My Big Dream
When I was a kid, my big dream was to become a doctor. Then I did it. Check.
Only it didn’t make me happy. Sure, I was good at it. In fact, I was a GREAT doctor. One of the best, if I do say so myself. But it just never felt right. It was like wearing those shoes you paid $200 for because they looked so pretty, even though they pinch your toes and make you feel off balance.
Once I realized what I didn’t want, I felt lost, ungrounded, fuzzy, confused, disjointed. I floundered. I cried. I grieved the twelve years of medical education I feared I wasted.
And then I let myself start dreaming.
Each month, my dream gets just a little bit more clear, kind of like painting in the details after outlining a rough sketch of a painting with charcoal. At first, all I could dream was a feeling. Now, I can almost see it as if it’s real. And I’ve finally sent my inner critic to time out so I can go crazy with my dreaming process. My dreams are BIG these days, and I’ve finally made peace with that, rather than beating myself up for being too ambitious or too stupid or too narcissistic. Now, with permission to dream, I’m allowing myself to admit that I want to:
Build a rocking coaching practice so I can continue to work one-on-one with people in a way that fits my authentic self better than medicine
Host my own TV talk show
Start a healing retreat center where people (including me) can gather to teach healing workshops and join in community
Write a boatload of books
Grow Owning Pink into a world class web destination where people can find the resources to take their next steps towards living a fully, whole, healthy, joyful life
Am I crazy? Maybe. But at least I’m a crazy person with big dreams! Will I feel like a failure if I never achieve these things? Nah. Who knows what the Universe has in store for me. I’m cool with whatever happens, and if I never achieve anything more than I have today, that’s cool too.
But I love to dream. And I’m gonna keep on doing it.
Getting Close On Your Dreams
Helping my coaching clients dream is one of the things I love doing the most. It’s so fun for me. As soon as someone starts talking, I can literally “see” them light up, even if our session is via the telephone or Skype. It juices me up so much to witness people getting in touch with that spark, that little light inside that has been shining all along and is finally ready to roar. It makes my day. Seriously. If I can help you with this process, please let me. I’d love nothing more.
What about you? What’s your dream? What do you want? What don’t you want? Are you getting clear on your big dream? Tell us!